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Maurice Spector

The Removal of Bucharin

(October 1929)

From The Militant, Vol. II No. 16, 15 October 1929, p. 6.
Transcribed & marked up by Einde O’ Callaghan for the Encyclopaedia of Trotskyism On-Line (ETOL).

Pravda has published a long statement on “the deviations and mistakes of Comrade Bucharin”. By order of the Stalin bureaucracy, Zinoviev’s successor may now be openly and fearlessly reviled by all the faithful who but recently applauded his every utterance as the distilled essence of Leninism. Perhaps we may yet read the sad story of the “golden child of the revolution” who was transformed into MISTER Bucharin and trod the snowy wastes of Siberia – with notes and addenda by the saintly fish-wife Emelian Yaroslavsky.

The official communique on Bucharin’s fate finds our eyes dry. In 1917 he paid tribute to Trotsky as “that brilliant and heroic tribune of the insurrection, that flaming apostle of the revolution”. That did not prevent him, on the death of Lenin, from joining in the bureaucratic conspiracy to distort the history of the revolution and defame the great revolutionary he had admired. Thereafter there was no gathering of the Communist International in Moscow where Bucharin was not set up to deliver scholastic diatribes against the “permanent revolution” and to lecture Trotsky on his “mistakes”. The innocent by-stander would never have guessed of this theoretician, of whom Lenin wrote in his last Testament that “he never has learned, and I think never fully understood the (Marxian) dialectic”.

The “Infallible Old Guard”

We did not have to wait for the latest ukase of Pravda to learn that “it is impossible for the Party to consider Comrade Bucharin as the infallible guardian of Lenin’s legacy.” One by one the veneer has been scraped off these “infallible guardians”. We have got to know the individuals of this self-congratulatory “Old Guard”, who have resorted to every expedient of demagogy to usurp the power in the Party. The story of the strikebreaking role of Zinoviev and Kamenev in October has been retold officially. Rykov and Losovsky were no better. But when will Pravda oblige us with some data on the role of Stalin, this artificially manufactured “great man” who never had an idea before the revolution, hatched one for a coalition with Tseretelli during the revolution, and became joint author with Bucharin of the reactionary idea of national socialism since. When will Pravda oblige with the political biographies of the crowd of lesser guardians of Leninism, the motley crowds of ex-Mensheviks, nationalists, Social Revolutionaries, Bundists, and adventurers, who wormed themselves into the apparatus of the Comintern, Bela Kun, Remmele, Semard, Smeral, Manuilsky, Martinov, Petrovsky – Goldfarb, Pepper and Lovestpne, Jilek, Hais, Brandler and Thalheimer – these too once did great feats of arms in the crusade against Trotsky.

Somewhat tardily the political biography of Bucharin is gone over in the stereotyped verbiage of the officialdom. It would have been more important to have gone into that a couple of years ago, to have warned the Party then that Bucharin was not “infallible”, to have told of his differences with Lenin on the Brest Treaty and the Trade Unions and state capitalism and Comintern strategy, to have pointed out at the time the reactionary nonsense implicit in his theory of building socialism “even at a snail’s pace”. But the Centrist Stalin faction was as deeply involved in steering a course towards the “development of capitalist relations in the village” and towards slowing up the tempo of industrialization, as Rykov, Bucharin and Tomsky. When over two years ago the Platform of the Opposition warned against the Right danger and named the groupings and persons in the Central Committee, it was denounced as slander. The present Pravda statement relates that there have been “profound, fundamental differences for more than a year” but the Centrist boss Stalin has lied to the Party again and again, denying that there were any internal differences in the Politbureau. This is the typically bureaucratic method of leading the Party blind-folded.

The Centrists and the Right

Under the crack of the Opposition whip, the Centrists have executed a series of manoeuvres to give the appearance of a change of course. They have made it lawful to talk of the “Right danger is the main danger”. But the bloc of the Centrists with the Right wing in the Russian Party has not yet been dissolved. Rykov, Kalinin, Voroshilov and many more like them still sit either in the Politbureau or the Central Committee biding their time, waiting for more favorable winds to resume the offensive. Impolite words may be used against the Rights, but the Stalin machine redoubles its measure of savage persecution of the Lenin (Trotsky) Opposition of the Left, The Centrists are incapable of waging a serious or prolonged battle against the Rights. The removals of Bucharin and Tomsky are apparatus manipulations. A serious fight would involve the mobilization of the masses and the Stalinite bureaucracy is afraid of the masses no less than the Right wing. The Rights would prefer an orderly and bureaucratic orientation in favor of their policies and hesitate at the moment to appeal to their real constituency with the battle cry used so effectively against the Opposition: “Peasants Unite! Trotsky is going to rob you of your little properties and savings”. Without the Party apparatus in their hands the Rights would have to appeal practically for civil war, and for this they are not prepared.

Only the Communist Opposition of Trotsky which retains its independence of both the Right and Center can afford to appeal to the masses to be on their guard against the Thermidorians.

“Where is the Party?” is a question that is frequently asked. The answer is that the bureaucracy has kept the Party strangled. With the machinery of repression in its control, the Stalin officialdom talks in the name of the Party. For the Opposition therefore the serious fight against the Right wing which must emanate from the mobilization of the masses, involves the fight to free the Party masses from the strangle-hold of the Centrist bureaucracy. It is a struggle not only against Bucharin but no less against boss Stalin, with his national socialism.

Bucharin started out as un ultra left. John Reed in his Ten Days reported that Bucharin was deemed by many to be “more Left than Lenin”. Today Professor Ustrialov, the spokesman for the new Soviet possessing classes (Nepman, bureaucrat and Kulak) hails him as the hope of the Soviet bourgeoisie. “Bucharin – that means peace,” writes this former Cadet.

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